On January 21, the CFPB issued a Small Entity Compliance Guide summarizing the October 2020 Debt Collection Rule. The Debt Collection Rule amends Regulation F, 12 CFR Part 1006 and becomes effective on November 30, 2021. The Debt Collection Rule governs the activities of debt collectors under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

The guide does not address the December 2020 final rule addressing and clarifying the consumer disclosure requirement, required actions prior to furnishing, and prohibition regarding the collection of time-barred debt. Eventually the CFPB will update the guide to include the December final rule, but there is no expected release date at this time.

Some notable highlights from the Debt Collection Rule are as follows:

  • Calls to cell phones and electronic communications, such as text messages and emails, are subject to the prohibition on communicating or attempting to communicate with a consumer at an unusual or inconvenient time or place.
  • A debt collector who communicates or attempts to communicate electronically with a consumer must include in each communication a reasonable and simple method that the consumer may use to opt out.
  • There are now procedures debt collectors may follow to raise a bona fide error defense to civil liability for unintentional violations of the rule’s prohibition against third-party disclosures for emails and text messages.
  • A debt collector is presumed to comply with the prohibition against contacting a consumer with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass, if it places telephone calls to a particular person in connection with the collection of a particular debt seven or fewer times within seven consecutive days and not within seven consecutive days after having had a telephone conversation with the consumer about the debt.
  • The rule also provides that a debt collector must not post a message to the public part of a consumer’s social media page, but it may send a private message over social media.

The Debt Collection Rule is a much-anticipated clarification and addition to the present regulation. The Small Entity Compliance Guide is a good reference point for further details on the new requirements.